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tv   Headliners  MSNBC  January 20, 2019 9:00pm-10:01pm PST

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>> and we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, we'll be able to join hands and sing in the web of the old negro spiritual, free at last, free at last, thank god almighty, free at last. in my younger days i got arrested and went to jail 40 times. i've since been in congress another five times, and i may get arrested and go to jail again. >> he's an icon of the civil rights movement. >> they found the power of the human spirit in john lewis. and he came to symbolize the student movement. >> he believed that he could help a country find its soul. >> risking death to fight for what's right. >> i did not think john would survive.
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>> fifty years later he's still challenging power. >> i don't see this president elect as a legitimate president. >> he likes to stir things up. he likes a little drama. >> let us vote. let us vote. >> john lewis is not about popularity. he's about purpose. >> never give up. never give in. >> his commitment through the years paved the way for a new generation. >> barack obama does not become president of the united states without a john lewis. >> john lewis led them on a mission to change america. >> our country will never, ever be the same because of what happened on this bridge. ♪
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>> what do we do? >> stand up right now! >> when activists turned out to protest the trump administration separation of migrant children from their parents in june of 2018, congressman john lewis was there. >> now i'm sick and tired, sick and tired of what has happened to our children, to our babies. been taken from their mothers. from their fathers. separated. it's painful. it is a violation of human rights. and none of us who live on this little piece of real estate we call america can be happy or satisfied. we have to do something. so we are prepared to take some action here and now. let's do it. >> you feel like you have been placed there for a reason. you have to disturb the order of things. >> one expression that he uses that i love, he says we have to make good trouble.
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>> lewis first came up with the phrase as a child in pike county, alabama. >> i didn't like segregation and racial discrimination. i didn't like the signs that said "white waiting," "colored waiti waiting", "white men," colored men." i would come home and ask my mother, my father, my grandparents why? they would say that's the way it is, boy. don't get in the way. don't get into trouble. >> born into sharecroppers. he was one of the 10 siblings growing up in the fields of cotton country. as a teenager he was inspired by the montgomery bus boycott and the sermons of the dr. martin luther king jr. on the radio. >> as long as you sit in the back you have a false sense of inferiority, and so long as you let the white men sit in the front and push you back there,
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he has a false sense of superiority. >> lewis challenged segregation laws in his own town at 18. >> went down to the public library. troy, alabama. trying to get a library card. trying to check out sot books. we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only and not for colors. and that sent me on a path. >> lewis believed that path would lead him to become a preacher like king. he received a work study scholarship to american baptist theological seminary in nashville. and arrived in 1957. >> john has always had a genuine smile. even a kind of boyishness about him that has made him charming. >> he was a person who was easy to talk to. and was always interested in social issues. >> lewis wanted to join the students beginning to integrate schools across the south. his target, all white troy state university, just ten miles from his home in alabama.
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he wrote to dr. king for help. king's deputy sent him a bus ticket to visit montgomery in the spring of 1958 when he was just 18 years old. >> dr. king said are you the boy from troy? are you john lewis? and i said dr. king, i am john robert lewis, i gave him my whole name, but he still called me the boy from troy. >> dr. king told the boy from troy he'd need his parents permission to take on troy state, but they were afraid of the consequences and refused. as lewis returned to nashville he was determined to do something. and then he met the second role model who would change his life. >> tim lawson came to nashville, and he enrolled as a student at vanderbilt university divinity school. >> this unbelievable young man told us the philosophy and discipline. and he kept saying respect and
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dignity and the worth of every human being. even if someone beat you, throw you in jail, look them in the eye and respect them. >> lawson's group began sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown nashville in early 1960. lewis and the other students filled the counters, tried to order food, and then took whatever abuse was hurled at them. and the 20-year-old lewis was arrested for the first time in february 1960, his parents were shocked. >> lot of people of color were afraid of what could happen. he could die. they could lose the land or any number of terrible consequences. >> reporter: but lewis and the other students continued their sit-ins. and after months of protests, the politicians and business leaders in nashville agreed to desegregate lunch counters in may 1960. >> we all applauded. and here was a situation that turned out right.
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>> with that success, john lewis was even more inspired to take on jim crow laws that segregated people by race and denied basic rights to african americans. >> there were many meetings when he would come into the meeting with bandages on his head. he had been in demonstrations and had been beaten. he was determined, though. he never let that stop him. i think you would have had to literally have killed him to have stopped him. coming up. >> john lewis would put himself on the line, without question. (burke) parking splat. and we covered it.
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i could no longer be satisfied or go along with this system.
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>> fresh from the student sit-ins in nashville, john lewis found a new way to contribute to the civil rights movement in 1961. a group called the congress of racial equality, or c.o.r.e. put out a call for black and white volunteers to ride buses headed into the jim crow south. traveling together would surely put them all in danger. >> they both applied. john was accepted because he was 21. i asked my father if i could go. he said do you think i'm going sign your death warrant? >> despite that warning, lewis went ahead as one of the original group of 13 freedom riders. they set out from washington d.c. in may 1961 and were soon met by violence. lewis and another man were viciousry beaten in rock hill, south carolina. a few days later a group of riders was attacked in birmingham. another was fire bombed in aniston, alabama.
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c.o.r.e. canceled the freedom rides. they were just too dangerous. lewis and the other nashville students disagreed with the decision. >> it was right at the heart of what they had been talking about in all their workshops. we can't let violence stop the movement. we've got to be willing to make whatever sacrifice it takes. >> the nashville students group decided to continue to freedom ride themselves. if adults refused to ride, the students still would. >> i remember several conversations with the department of justice, and they told me i just didn't understand that somebody would get killed. and i said i understand and all of them understand as well. several of the students who were about to get on the bus gave me sealed envelopes. that i was to mail in the event of their death. >> they knew how dangerous it
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was, but they were not afraid. they came prepared to face down the dangers with the power of their souls. >> despite the violence, john lewis got back on a bus to alabama as one of the new group of student freedom riders. >> they were supposed to have protection, federal protection, but when we got to montgomery, they disappeared. and we were left in the hands of a mob. i mean it was terrible. that's when john lewis was beaten and jims work was beaten and william barbee. >> the riders kept going, this time with federal guards. eventually they made it to the dark heart of the south, jackson, mississippi. there, lewis and the others were arrested for breach of the peace and sent to mississippi's infamous parchman prison.
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>> it really was like going back into the antebellum plantation. it was a plantation prison. it was a rough experience. >> more students continue to join the freedom rides and by the end of the summer hundreds of those riders filled parchman and other mississippi jails. >> it bonded them. they said we went in there a hundred little movements on campuses and came out one big movement and we knew each other. >> people should expect to get beaten. they should expect to go to jail. it may go beyond of going to jail. >> that was called the student nonviolent coordinating committee, or s.n.i.p. when the group's chairman resigned in the summer of 1963, the organization turned to john lewis. with his country accent and lack of formal education, some saw him as an unlikely choice. >> they needed a chairman who had fought, who had bled, who had been to jail, who had suffered through every indignity that they were then asking the people in the field to suffer through. >> they found the power of the
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human spirit in john lewis, and he came to symbolize the student movement. >> almost immediately, lewis was tapped to represent s.n.i.p. at the march on washington. at 23 he would be the youngest speaker at the event. but when people in the kennedy administration and more senior civil rights leaders read his planned speech, they said it was too militant. >> at the end of the speech i said a day may come where we will not confine our march in washington, but we may be forced to march through the south the way sherman did, nonviolently. >> the image of students as shermans scared the bejesus out of people. so they threatened to pull the plug. and catholic cardinals said i'm not going introduce it if they are going to say something like this. >> dr. king and others came to me and said, john, for the sake of unity, can we make these changes?
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and i couldn't say no to dr. king, and we made the changes. >> let us not forget that we're involved in a serious social revolution. >> even with the compromises john lewis's speech on april 28, 1963 was fierce, although often forgotten in the shadow of dr. king's dream. >> we don't want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now. >> in the years after the march on washington, lewis and sncc concentrated on registering black voters. >> the idea is we got more people participating in government and bringing about changes, if we got more people registered to vote so they could practice their fundamental rights. >> in mississippi during the summer of 1964, the students tried to register voters, with violent repercussions. and in selma, alabama, s.n.c.c.
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volunteers set up a voter drive. >> came down make a mockery out of courthouse. we're not going to have it. >> in spring 1965 residents turned to dr. king for help. >> we are tired of having registrars refusing to register us and allow us to vote. >> many times sncc did a lot of work, but when martin luther king came and the media came, it was described as martin luther king's work. >> there was always this tendency to want to challenge dr. king's leadership. and john didn't share that. john wanted to change the world. and he wasn't thinking about credit. >> martin luther king was his hero and his example and model. >> i think they shared a total commitment. there was no moral compromise. they were fearless.
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>> when king's group organized a protest march from selma to montgomery in march 1965, sncc refused to join. but john lewis chose to march anyway at the front of the line. >> we're marching today to dramatize to the nation and hundreds of thousands of negro citizens of alabama denied the right to vote. >> his knapsack had an apple and toothbrush. he was ready to go to jail as he had so often before but he was also prepared for worse. >> john just was always available to risk death, and i think it was not that he wanted to die, it was that the basis of his leadership was showing a fearlessness that encouraged others. >> when the marchers crossed the edmund pettus bridge out of town, a line of state troopers confronted them. >> you are ordered to disperse.
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go home or go to your church. >> they refused to turn back. the violence was broadcast on national television. >> america's conscience was seared by what they saw that day. i think it was a transformational moment in american history. because i think that's when the american people said enough's enough. two weeks later the group set out again. then joined by thousands of americans, from all over the country inspired by the cause. president lyndon johnson used the public outrage to motivate his proposal of a voting rights act. in a speech to congress on march 15th. >> what happened in selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of america. >> the only time i saw martin
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luther king shed a tear, and i wasn't with john, but i bet you he cried too. >> their cause must be our cause too. >> was when lyndon johnson closed his speech with "we shall overcome." >> and we shall overcome. [ applause ] >> coming up -- >> two lose two people that i love was almost too much. that'd to liberty mutual. they customized my car insurance, so i only pay for what i need. and as a man... uh... or a woman... with very specific needs that i can't tell you about- say cheese. mr. landry? oh no. hi mr. landry! liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ dad! hiding when i was supposed to be quitting.
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we'll use the energies and resources of our organization to implement the voting bill. >> the violence against marchers at the bridge in selma in 1965 helped convince congress to pass the voting rights act. and it secured john lewis' reputation as an icon of the civil rights movement, but that march also signalled a breech between lewis and his group t student non violent coordinating committee. >> i felt at the time that the organization and maybe even the movement was moving in a different direction.
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>> 14 months after the selma march, a more militant faction ousted lewis as chairman and the group soon began calling for very different tactics. >> violence is a part of america's culture. it is as american as cherry pie. >> the new rhetoric went against everything in which lewis believed. >> we had been preaching a philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence, preaching the sense of dealing what we called the beloved community, that we were one people, that we're one family. >> after 40 arrests and countless beats in the name of the civil rights movement, john lewis left the group he helped to create. but he continued his work in community organizing and voter registration. >> just because he had this disagreement with an organization, it doesn't mean he had to abandon the ideal of the movement. >> he recognized the problem in america of racism and denial and unjust treatment that he wanted to get the problem solved.
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>> while working in the south, 27-year-old john lewis was introduced to the woman who would become his wife, lillian miles. >> i said to myself, this young lady is really hip. and i start talking with her. >> she read everything about john's background and respected him tremendously. >> she was wonderful, beautiful, charming and she taught me a great deal. >> within a year the couple was married. lewis also began a new work assignment in 1968 traveling for robert kennedy's presidential campaign. >> i got to know robert kennedy when he was attorney general. i admired him. and i thought he would be a great president. >> lewis took over the recruitment of black voters for the campaign in several states. >> it was a big deal for robert kennedy and it was a big deal for john lewis. it marked his transition to politics.
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>> lewis was at a rally with kennedy on the day his idol, dr. martin luther king jr. was shot. >> martin luther king was shot and was killed tonight in memphis. >> just two months later, the nation still reeling from king's death, kennedy won the california primary. lewis was in the candidate's hotel suite, waiting while he gave his victory speech. >> my thanks to all of you, and now it's on the chicago, and let's win there. thank you. >> and the next thing, it was announced on television that he had been shot. >> is there a doctor in the house? >> and we saw the scene. bobby laying on the floor. we all just broke down and just cried, really. >> the two assassinations. tragedies for the nation. as well as personal losses for john lewis helped set his future course.
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>> two lose two people that i admired and loved, it was almost too much. and later i just said some of us will speak up for dr. king and robert kennedy. so if it hadn't been for them, i'm not so sure i would have gotten involved in american politics. >> lewis plotted his entry into politics as he continued his voter registration work in the 1970s. >> it is no longer the drama of in the streets. it is in washington. it is in city hall. the state capitals around the south and around this country. >> he ran for the fifth congressional district in atlanta in 1977 and lost. he went on to serve on the atlanta city council, but continued to eye the fifth district. >> right now there is the highest possibility for a black elected official that would like to move up.
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>> the seat opened again in 1986 but there was another sncc veteran running, julian bond, who marched alongside lewis and served in the georgia state legislature. >> they were inseparable and collaborated virtually on everything for more than 20 years. >> after a crowded primary the vote came down to a runoff between the two friends. >> the race was on. each of these men badly wanted this seat, and they were willing to go all out. >> so tell julian bond, here i come. >> the runoff divided not just lewis and bond, but black atlanta and veterans of the sylvester rights movement who knew them both. >> practically every prominent african american leader in the metropolitan atlanta area was supporting julian bond. john wasn't phased by it. he was determined to outwork julian. >> he was all over the place. and i think julian kind of
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thought that he had it made. >> bond challenged lewis to a series of television and radio debates. >> the real issue is which of the two of us, john lewis or julian bond, would make the better legislator. >> julian, so smart, so gifted, spoke so well. and i think he thought that he would -- >> john was a man who expressed what he believed. he never put on airs. he never pretended. he never tried to please other people. >> if you know anything about me, that i'm not up for sale. my vote cannot be bought. >> as the debates continued. lewis' team encouraged him to raise an issue from the earlier primary when another candidate had challenged everyone to take a drug test, wonder had refused. >> campaign advisors, myself included had been urging john to issue that challenge to julian. john resisted. and then julian made some comment that john had abandoned
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the voter of the city. >> you know if it walks like a duck, it acts like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. >> i said well, mr. bond, i think you're the one doing the ducking. i challenge mr. bond to take a drug test. >> that's okay, john. that's all right. >> the challenge rocked bond's campaign. and three days later, john lewis won the runoff by four points. >> and i want to thank those folks, those good people who had the courage, the raw courage to change their votes in a runoff and vote for me. >> the sense of shock and absolute surprise in atlanta the night that john lewis won that seat is unlike anything i have ever seen. i mean people were stunned. >> for the two friends the damage was done. >> it was hurtful to him.
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i think he was hurt by the way that john presented those issues. >> their friendship was the price they paid. >> there's been a real strain put on the relationship between the two of us, but, you know, time is a great healer, and i'm sure in time the wounds will heal. >> later he became very supportive and our friendship was mended. but he was a good friend. if i had to do it over again, i wouldn't do it. >> coming up -- >> people dying for the right to vote, friends of mine, colleagues of mine. of mine, colleagues of mine hello? collect call for, mr. bob wehadababyitsaboy. sorry, wrong number. who was that, dear? bob. they had a baby... it's a boy. (smiling) ahhh. if you like saving money, call geico. a fifteen minute call could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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switch to cvs pharmacy. i'm dara brown with the hour's top stories. were now hearing a viral video of a face-off between a group of high schoolers wearing make america great again hats and an american veteran. nick claims the teens were insulted by a different group before the reported incident. frigid temperatures are
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rolling in across the midwest and the northeast as residents dig themselveses out of snow and ice. slick roads led to hundreds of crashes and dozens of injuries. now back to "headliners: john lewis." we not on the outside now. we're legislators. we are politicians trying to use government as an instrument, as a tool to bring about change. >> after a hard fought campaign john lewis began his freshman term in congress in january 1987. the 46-year-old was already known for his history in the civil rights movement and wanted to use that influence to become effective in washington. one of his first initiatives was a national museum of african american history. >> he realized here is a history that is crucial to understanding who we are as americans but it is a history that's undervalued, undertaught and there is not a
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place to revel in and understand that history. >> lewis first introduced his bill in 1988 and then again year after year. >> he's not daunted by the long shot causes. if he thinks it is right he's going stick with it. >> more than a decade later lewis gained an unexpected ally. kansas senator sam brownback. >> i was praying at st. joseph's church and i got this idea we should have an museum. an african american museum of history and culture. found that john lewis had tried future a dozen years and could get through one house, but not the other. >> brownback, one of more conservative members of the senate, was wary of lewis' history. >> i had a public impression of him, which was pretty fiery. but when i met with him personally, i found a pretty thoughtful, enjoyable gentleman
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that had done a great deal pour the country, had a great passion. >> you have people that might not agree on some day to day issues but they find some common purpose. >> the bill to create the museum passed and was signed into law by president george w. bush in 2003, 15 years after john lewis first proposed it. it took another 13 years for the building to be finished. the museum opened on the mall in washington in 2016. >> some who said it couldn't happen, who said you can't do it, but we did it. we did it. >> through the years, lewis established himself as a force in washington. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> an influential member of the ways and means committee, a deputy whip for the democratic party and as a leader of the
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congressional black caucus. but his personal life remained in atlanta with his wife lillian. the separation wasn't easy. >> lillian didn't like it and complained a lot about it, and then she finally realized lewis was wed to that war. >> lillian traveled weekly to atlanta to visit. >> lewis travel to atlanta weekly to see lillian and their son john miles. john miles looked forward to seeing him come home for the weekends. they would do things together. >> the couple made the long distance arrangement work for decades until lillian's death in 2012. atlanta was vital to john lewis, not just as his home but as his political base. >> anything we need from washington he's got enough friends to get for us. >> lewis built relationships with colleagues across the political spectrum by leading congressional trips to selma and other sights of the civil rights
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movement. through the faith and politics institute he traveled with more than 300 politicians over the years. >> we were going to the lunch counters, when we were marching -- >> i think he's one of the few people in congress that can bring people from many different parties together and say let's spend three days wrestling with the past. only john could do that. >> lewis built on the relationships to support his chosen projects. >> he tries to use the influence that he has, the respect that he commands to advance the causes that he thinks are important. and that i think are really all about fairness, justice and equality. >> and no cause was more important to him than voting rights. >> i happen to believe that the vote is precious. it is almost sacred. it is the most powerful non violent instrument or tool that we have in a democratic society. >> there is the history there with him. in terms of ensuring that '65 voting rights act becomes law. and then in his later life, protect it, the gains that were
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won during the civil rights movement. >> many of those gains lewis helped win for wiped out in 2013 when a stunning decision by the supreme court reversed decades of federal protection for voters in the south. >> so i think what the court did today is stab the voting right acts of 1965 in its very heart. >> after what i think is probably one of the worst supreme court decisions for the last 50 years, he sprung into action. >> before the ink was even dry, states began to put into force effort to suppress people's voting rights. >> he worked towards passage of that legislation to try to put back in place the structure of the voting rights act. >> we've come too far. we made too much progress, mr. speaker, and we cannot go back. >> coming up -- >> he's trying to talk directly to young people. he has written a comic book, for crying out loud. loud.
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i'm dealing with friends. people that i love. >> after more than 20 years in congress, john lewis faced a difficult choice in the fall of 2007. barack obama was running for president and the election of an african american to the nation's highest office would be the culmination of lewis' life work. but early on, the front-runner in the primary race was hillary clinton. >> the clintons were very supportive of him. when john had birthday fundraisers, president clinton would be here. he just might want to return the favor. i got to support clintons. they've been with me every step of the way.
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>> when georgia democrats chose obama in the primary in february 2008, lewis reconsidered his position. >> as it looked like it was more of a reality about to happen, i think people say, well, you know what? it's time for you to shift and kind of get on board this train. you have been on the right side of history virtually everything else. you need to be on the right side of history for this. >> the choice was painful for him, but in the end, lewis gave his full support to the obama campaign. >> i love bill clinton. i love hillary clinton. but something is happening in america. something is unbelievable. >> i barack hussein obama do solemnly swear -- >> barack obama does not become president of the united states without a john lewis. >> lewis developed a strong bond with president obama. >> i can kind of tell when president obama is really listening to somebody.
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when he really listens to john lewis. >> he's known as the conscience of the united states congress. still speaking his mind on issues of justice and quality. >> despite honors like the 2010 medal of freedom, those who work with lewis say he wears his fame lightly. >> in public life, there are a lot of people that seek to get to the front of the room immediately, but not john lewis. it's for me pretty astounding. >> first thing that strikes you is his humility. he doesn't come off as this sort of grandiose figure. he comes off as a humble, decent, kind soul. >> part of what makes john humble is that he knows who he is. and he knows that he's sacrificed for greater good. so what else does he have to prove? >> although he still carries the scars of his days in the movement, lewis is willing to engage with those who hurt him. >> one of the class member who beat us in rock hill, south
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carolina, came to this office many years later and said, "mr. lewis, i'd been a member of the klan. i'm one of the people that beat you, but i want to apologize. will you forgive me?" his sons started crying. he started crying. and i cried with them. that is the power, the way of peace. the way of love. the power of the philosophy love. >> thank you, brother. >> good to see you. >> he epitomizes what the non violent movement's all about. it's about soul force. it's the force of the human spirit. >> as a bridge between the civil rights era and a new generation, lewis found a way to share his experiences when he told his young staffers about a comic book from the movement. >> this little comic book, martin luther king jr. and the montgomery story. sold for 10 cents and people were arrested in nashville,
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tennessee almost every single one of us had a copy on us. >> i started thinking. why isn't there a john lewis comic book. i had never heard the story. of sncc. i had never heard the full depth and breadth of his story. why didn't anybody tell me i as a young person had so much power. >> he kept saying to me, congressman, you should write a comic book. and i said, oh, maybe. but he wouldn't give up. and i finally said, yes, if you do it with me. >> the first part of their graphic novel, called "march" came out in 2013. wearing an outfit just like he wore at the bridge in selma, lewis met his new fans at comic-con. the third book won a national book award in 2016, the first time a graphic novel has ever won. >> i remember going to the public library trying to get library cards, and we were told
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that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds. and to come here and receive this award, this honor for this. it's too much. thank you. >> in another sign how far he and the nation had come, john lewis celebrated the 50th anniversary of the selma march with an african american president, retracing those fateful steps over the edmund pettus bridge. >> his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush and a book bonn government, all you need for a night behind bars, john lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change america. >> this city on the banks of the alabama river gave birth to a movement that changed this nation forever. our country will never ever be the same because of what
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happened on this bridge. >> coming up -- >> we're going to continue to push, to pull, to stand up and if necessary, to sit down. ance, and as a fitness junkie, i customize everything. like my bike and my calves. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ dad! hiding when i was supposed to be quitting. i thought, i should try something that works. i should try nicorette. nicorette mini relieves sudden cravings fast. anytime. anywhere. nicorette mini. you know why. we know how.
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in my younger days, i got arrested and went to jail 40 times. and since being in congress, another five times, and i may get arrested and go to jail again. >> during his 30-plus years in congress, john lewis has joined protests on darfur, apartheid, and immigration. >> he'll join a march or a demonstration or whatever in a minute because that's where he got his start, and that's still in his blood. >> i tell my colleagues in the
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congress do something. you cannot afford to be still. >> congresswoman katherine clark decided to do something after 49 people were killed at the pulse nightclub in orlando in june 2016. she wanted to force a vote on gun control legislation, but the leadership wouldn't allow it, so she turned to lewis for ideas. >> john said in his very quiet way we have to do something dramatic, and then he paused and said we have to do a sit-in. and when john lewis recommends that you do a sit-in, the only answer is yes, any way that i can help. >> congressman lewis stepped on to the house floor on june 22nd. >> we're calling on the leadership of the house to bring common sense gun control legislation to the house floor. give us a vote. let us vote! >> then lewis and his group began an unprecedented sit-in to try and force a vote. >> they're not trying to
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actually get this done through regular order. no, instead they're staging protests. they're trying to get on tv. >> the chair wishes to make an announcement regarding the decorum in the house chamber. >> the republican leadership shut off c-span to try to block the protesters' access to the public. >> fortunately, we had members who picked that up with facebook live, periscope, other social media tools. >> what made it so powerful was there was an attempt to actually broadcast to it the nation even when c-span wasn't running it. >> lewis and his colleagues kept the protest going for 25 hours. >> and i'm here today to say john lewis, we join you in getting into good trouble on behalf of the american people. >> we never did get the vote that we wanted, but i think seeing someone like john lewis saying this issue is important enough for me to stop the
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business of the house of representative is profound. >> john lewis taught me that sometimes you might be powerless to stop an injustice, but you can never, ever be silent. because ultimately, the opposite of justice is not injustice, it's indifference. it's inaction, and then silence. >> we're going to continue to push, to pull, to stand up, and if necessary, to sit down. sit down. >> the protest helped lewis connect with a new crop of younger activists. >> i think that that moment for john lewis was in many ways an introduction to a new generation. >> many of these young people remind me of what we were like at the age of 18 and 19, and i tell them over and over again, whatever you do, do it in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion.
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>> lewis reached out to the new civil rights movement that had grown in recent years in response to videotaped police violence against african americans. >> never give up. never give in. never become bitter or hostile. >> while they may not always be on the same page, i think he has a clear respect and admiration for their desire to insert themselves into the struggle. >> when you see young people, see football players kneeling, they're trying to make it real. they're trying to make it plain, to wake people up. >> usa, usa! >> after the shock of donald trump's election, john lewis decided he needed to wake people up. >> harsh and frankly stunning words for president-elect trump from a prominent democrat and civil rights figure. >> i don't plan to attend the inauguration. >> john lewis was one of the first to actually stand up against this presidency. >> i don't see this
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president-elect as a legitimate president. >> with his days of perspective in the south, lewis was especially incensed when trump nominated jeff sessions for attorney general. in the 1980, sessions had prosecuted civil rights workers who were registering voters in alabama. >> i didn't think he was the person to be the attorney general of the united states, to be enforcing the voting rights act. >> i think he felt that the country had tried to push america back to where it was when he was growing up in troy, alabama. >> in a highly unusual move, senator cory booker asked lewis to join him in testifying against the nomination. >> i tell you, it was one of the moments in my life where i'm sitting next to my hero and testifying with him. >> we need someone who is going to stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help, for the people who have
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been discriminated against. >> even though sessions was ultimately confirmed, lewis was lauded for his fortitude in testifying. >> what he did was an extraordinary thing. i think he understood that, but i think it was an indication of how strongly he felt that we made substantial progress during the obama years and that progress was going to be put at risk.
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> this is an msnbc special series. white lives matter. >> hate is on the rise in america. it's em -- normalized. >> the government is nothing compared to the jewish menace. >> and destroying lives. >> there are people who will say, once a nazi, always a nazi and th


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